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tv   U.S. Senate Sens. React to Announcement of Short Term Deal  CSPAN  January 27, 2019 11:03am-11:51am EST

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the government from our disagreements over borders security. agreement endorses that position. it reopens the government conditions and gives democrats and republicans an discuss border security without holding hundreds of thousands of american workers hostage. hopefully it means a lesson has been learned. shutting down government over a policy difference is self-defeating. it accomplishes nothing but pain and suffering for the country. and the american people. that is a lesson we all must bear in mind when this next continuing resolution expires. that will make it a success more likely. we can never hold american workers hostage again. i yield the floor. >> the senator from maine. president, government
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shutdowns are never justified and i have opposed every one of them. this shutdown, the longest in our nation's history has caused real harm to 800,000 federal employees and their families. just today i heard from a federal employee in belfast, maine, who has worked for 32 years for the u.s. fish and wildlife service. he has two children with type i diabetes. and this , the soaring cost of the influence, he was beginning to worry about how he would be able to afford insulin for his children. he was concerned that a prolonged shutdown would have an adverse impact on his insurance coverage. but shutdown has also hurt americans federal agencies and threatened housing assistance for low income
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families , our seniors , people with disabilities. it turned small businesses that have contracts with federal agencies for certain services and yet we are not getting paid and thus their employees were at risk of being laid off. and thus that's why i voted twice this week to end the shutdown and reopen governments. although neither proposal received enough votes to pass, we saw glimmers of hope that have produced results. i would note that after the failed
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votes, a bipartisan group of 16 senators came to the floor and each one of us indicated a willingness to compromise. and today, i am pleased that there is real progress. the president and senate republicans and democrats have come together and agree to reopen governments until february 15 , while negotiations on border security issues continue. that is so important , madam president and as the presiding officer, and chair of the appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, i know she will be playing a key role in this area. but madam president, let each of
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us on the democratic side of the aisle, the republican side of the aisle and in the administration pledge that we will negotiate in good faith , that we will work to hammer out a compromise on border security. so that we are not facing the same situation again on february 15. i for one will keep working with my colleagues , with the white house to ensure that hundreds of thousands of hard-working patriotic public servants stay on the job . this is not just a temporary reprieve that will allow back pay to be made to them as early as the beginning of next week .
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but rather that it will lead to a permanent solution so that we can reopen government beyond february 15 through the end of the fiscal year , that is, until september 30 . and that in the future , we can avoid ever , ever resorting to the shutdown of government again. it is never good policy so let us work together over this next three weeks , come up with a compromise on border security and show the american people that we can govern effectively. thank you madam president the senator from vermont.
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>> obviously this is a happy and positive day , not only for federal employees but to the american people as we reopen the government . but we should also indicate there is something absolutely pathetic about what has happened. let us not forget for a second that five weeks ago , the united states senate unanimously , every republican, every democrat voted for essentially the same legislation that will likely pass today. five weeks ago, we voted to keep the government open and then
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president trump responding to fox television , and other right-wing outlets announced that he would shut down the government unless he got his wall . five weeks. think of the suffering, the uncertainty, the pain that hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been forced to experience. workers who have worry about whether they will be able to pay their mortgages . whether they're going to be able to feed their kids . whether they will be able to go to the doctor when they get sick. worry about what kind of damage has been done to their credit ratings. that is a result of trump's shutdown. and madam president, my ears heard correctly and i think they did .
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trump even today , just a few minutes ago, announced he is prepared to shut down the government again unless he gets his way. and i think the time is long overdue for the american people to tell this president he is not a dictator . he is not a king . he is not the despotic ruler of saudi arabia. he is not his authoritarian friend vladimir putin of russia . he is the president of the united states . and he cannot and must not continue to threaten to shut down this government and hold hundreds of thousands of workers , federal workers hostage. and mister president, while i am delighted that the government is
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going to be reopened , and delighted that federal employees will get their back pay , i remain concerned by the over 1 million contract employees , often full who work for low -- folks who work for low wages who not only have lost pay but at this point at least are not protected by any legislation to make sure that they get their back pay and that mister president is something that i hope we can address. mister president, the truth is despite what the president tells us , there is nobody in the u.s. senate or the us house who is not concerned about border security . some of us believe
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that spending as a down payment 5.7 billion on the wall with many billions more to come is not an effective use of tax dollars when we talk about border security. there are better ways to do it , more cost-effective ways to do it but there is no debate that border security is an important issue. but mister president, one of the things that concerned me very much , and i say this to you who is chairman of the health education labor and pensions committee is that border security and a wall is not the only issue facing the american people. there are 30 million americans who have no health insurance , many more who are underinsured , we pay by far the highest cost for prescription drugs of any people on the face
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of the earth. border security is important, it must be dealt with but we also have to deal with a dysfunctional health care system and in my view , do what every other major country does, guarantee health care to all people as a right . mister president, border security is an important issue. but so is the fact that tens of millions of workers in this country are working for starvation wages. or just in south carolina the other day, i talked to a waitress. she received $2.25 pay plus tips. millions of workers in this country are working for starvation wages of eight or nine or $10 an hour . we have got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and i'm proud that
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in the house , i expect they will pass a minimum wage bill of $15 an hour. and mister chairman, when that bill comes to the senate, i hope we can do the same. mister president, border security is an important issue. but so is the fact that the scientific community tells us that we have a very short window of opportunity to address the global crisis of climate change . what the scientists have told us is that if we do not boldly reduce carbon emissions over the next 12 years, by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and sustainable energy, this country and in fact countries all over the world will suffer irreparable damage
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from climate change. we have got to address the crisis of climate change. border security is important . we have to deal with it. but we also have to deal with climate change. we have to deal with a broken criminal justice system . which today creates a situation where in america we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. and obviously we have -- if we have learned anything in recent weeks , we have got to deal with a immigration system which everybody acknowledges does not work. and we have got to pass comprehensive immigration reform. so mister president, my point is that i hope very much we will not
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continue to be held hostage ny -- by this president who once again just an hour ago has threatened another government shutdown in three weeks if he doesn't get his way. and i hope very much there will be serious discussion on border security, a very important issue . but president trump , stop holding the american people hostage. stop threatening to shut down the government . stop telling hundreds of thousands of federal employees that they have got to come to work while they don't get paid. stop denying or threatening to deny the american people access to the vital services that they need. so mister president, today is a good day. in the sense that i hope and expect that the
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government will be reopened , but how sad it is that after all of the suffering , all of the uncertainty that our federal employees have had, we are back to exactly where we were five weeks ago when this body voted unanimously , every republican, every democrat voted unanimously to keep the government open. thank you mister president. >> the senator from alaska. >> mister president, i think it is good that we are standing here on the senate floor and acknowledging that with the news that the president has just announced that the government will reopen as early as today,
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that those good, dedicated, hard-working federal employees that have either been reloaded or have been working without pay for now 35 days will be able to get back to work, will be able to receive that just compensation for their work. this is important news. this is good news, this is long-awaited news and there is mister -- in fairness mister president , never should have happened . i concur with my colleague from maine that there's never a good reason to have a government shutdown in the first place . so we demonstrated that we can do it, but it sure isn't something that should be done and i think the men and women who have been so directly and immediately impacted are not only believed -- relieved this afternoon but they're saying , for heavens sake, make sure you don't put us
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through this again. and count me in the camp on working to make sure we don't put these men and women and their families through this again. i've been holding skype sessions with the spouses of our active coast guard in alaska. and last evening, i had an opportunity to connect with the spouses and it is absolutely gutwrenching to hear a young wife who has an 18 month old, excuse me, she's got a baby now less than a-year-old . her husband has been at sea for five months, he has just come home and she relays the conversation of the two of them crying in bed as they are discussing whether or not she should leave citgo to go back and live with either his parents or her parents with their babies because they cannot
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-- baby because they cannot afford to stay in the coast guard community they are in. i'm scheduled to have yet another skype session with the spouses of our guard men and women from cordova and petersburg in just 40 minutes from now. i think it will be a much better conversation with them. we will be able to share the good news for -- good news. i have visited with them and heard their direct stories. they are pretty selfless. there -- they are selfless in saying that as hard as it is on us and as much as we want to be paid, we want to make sure that others who serve as public servants, our federal employees, whether
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they are air traffic controllers, faa, tsa, noaa, because they, too, will get paid because they, too are our friends and neighbors. they are also hurting. so again, making sure that we are doing right by all those who have served, who served our country, who serve all of us through the good work they do through the agencies. this has been a harsh and difficult time. it has been particularly painful for me, coming from a state where we are feeling the direct impact of this partial shutdown, perhaps more so than any other state out there. i'm told that per capita there are more federal employees in alaska directly impacted by this partial shutdown than any other state. i hear the urgency. it's the
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-- it's not just the coast guard men and women. whos the so many agencies have a presence. i got a readout from those in the fishing industry who are concerned that because permits can't get issued, because comments can't be published in the federal register, that the impact to their fisheries and being able to move forward with the codfish or he, they are not going to be able to do it. today's news allows for everyone to brief a sigh of relief. but i don't want them, whether they are fishermen or the coast guard wife, i don't want them -- mi only going to be able to breathe for three weeks?
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what happens after that? . we owe it to not only federal workers but we owe it to all america to take the anxiety out of this process. i have supported my colleague, the senator from ohio, in his legislation that would permanently end government shutdowns. i am not convinced the way it is as an appropriate or is something i'm entirely good with but i want to take this off the table. i believe it is the presiding officer who used to the terminology that a shutdown is like the chemical warfare agent comes to political weapons. -- agent when it comes to political weapons. at the end of the day, mr. president, these are people
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lives that we are dealing with. people's lives that we are messing with. when we say we are going to shut the government down for this period of time. but we try to advance priorities. we cannot mess with people's lives with this way. we've got to work that out for -- we have our work set out for us. i believe we will rise to this occasion. we must rise to this occasion. i look forward to doing that. i think the president for his -- i thank the president for his announcement today. i thank him for giving us this weeks we have requested. the three majority leader and the minority leader for coming together to help advance it. it's going to take all of us, it's going to take the president is going to take our leadership, it's going to take all of us working together. as a member of the appropriations committee, i look forward to my committing
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i look forward to my continuing role in this know the country toto get this right and get it right quickly. this is a good start today and i look forward to working with colleagues and i yield the floor. >> mr. president? >> the senator from west virginia. >> i was just listening and paying close attention to my colleague from alaska describing the misery march of a government shutdown particularly , one that has lasted longer than any one in the history, any one that has occurred or the history of this country. i couldn't agree more with her, comments having had many conversations as many of us has, with our tsa agents, coast guard
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and yes west virginia has a coast guard presence. and others, prison guards, who are really -- have forced upon them through no fault of their own, some difficult decisions. you want to celebrate, there is little cause to celebrate. it is more a breath of fresh air or a deep sigh of relief, in the minds ofbably in the the veterans i was with at the martinsburg medical center this id breath andbly then, well, no kidding. let's get back to business of governing and making decisions and making good decisions for the country. so i cheer the -- chair the subcommittee on homeland security the senate as part of the appropriations committee. i am pleased that the president has made this announcement that both of our leaders here, both
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mcconnell and schumer have with a common sense breathable solution to give us some space to work through what we call regular order, for those listening, that's what we should be doing every day. where i sit down as the chair of the committee with senator from montana and other members of the committee and we work things out. this, this, he wants maybe we pick the middle or i will give you this if you give me that. i look forward, with the bold leadership of senator shelby and senator leahy as the chair committeember on the and a leadership at our leaders with the president to work out a good solution here. i firmly believe order security is important. that is reflected in the bill we passed with the
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subcommittee. the chair voted on it and the senator from tennessee voted on it in the full committee. 10 democrats voted for that bill which had for security, a fence, securityechnology, a cutter for our coast guard which is something very important to as americans us for our safety. a lot of very reflective priorities in there for the rest of the country. homeland security is not about one structure or one placement. ofis about a full out array ways that looking at protecting our country internally in our transportation sector and our energy sectors. it sounds like a steep mountain. i embrace this. the ability to play a role, to
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find a reasonable solution, that we haven't granted until february the 15th to work this out. with that, i am rolling up my sleeves and getting ready to go to work with many others here in this body and across the way and at the white house. people, arecan useless -- shutdowns are useless and painful. nobody wins. and fruit clearly american people are winning. i don't think anybody wins. i yield my time and look forward to finding a solution. >> the senator from tennessee. >> i am glad the senator from west virginia is on the floor. if someone were to ask where do we go from here, her work is the best example of that. let's think about this just a minute. , whether we should
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include in a plan for border security some physical barrier. that's the issue. how do you resolve that issue? that's what we do. i remember i went to see johnny cash when i was governor in tennessee, i didn't know what i would say to him so i said, how many nights are you on the road? he said about 200. i said, what -- why do you do that. he looked at me and said, that's what i do. this is what we do. our job, it's not to take a position or to make a speech, we can do that at home. we could get a radio program or television show. nobody might watch it but we could get one. it takes courage -- very little courage and very little skill to take a position or make a speech. what the senator from west virginia has shown she is able to do is take issues of border security and to what we are supposed to do. which is to put different views together and get
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a result. it wasn't that long ago what she described. that thest summer formal appropriations committee of the u.s. senate, about a third of all of us, almost equally divided republicans and democrats, considered president trump's request for border security. it included a request that included physical barriers. a wall. what was the result? i -- if i have my numbers right i believe the committee recommended about $5.7 billion for border security including $1.6 billion for a physical barrier which is a wall. at least ten democrats voted for that. you didn't read about that on the afternoon news is a big -- as a big problem because we considered what a comprehensive border security plan would be for our southern border under
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the leadership of the senator from west virginia and she responded to the president's request, he is after all the president. i read the constitution, he does have to sign the bill. but we -- so we respected the president's request and voted for it. and that's where we were on the senate floor as late as last summer. now then the president came along more recently said, we have a crisis on the southern border. we need more money for border security. part of that money includes physical barriers. that's should surprise -- that should surprise no one. the last four presidents have said the same thing. president obama, president clinton, president george w. busheo, president george h.w. bush. we think there were plenty of president, they all ask for money to build physical barriers on the southern border of the united states.
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191504-miles long. under those four presidents who came before president trump, those presidents asked for and congress approved democrats and republicans, 61504 miles of -- 654 miles of wall along the southern border. madame president, this issue has gotten blown way out of proportion as the president said a few moments ago, he's not asking for a wall, from sea to shining sea and what this congress has shown under four presidents of the united states, and more recently under the leadership of the senator from west virginia, we could take a presidents request, either republican president or democrat president, in the case of clinton and obama, we can take the requests for border security and come up with a comprehensive recognization that -- recommendation that attracts the bipartisan support of the
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united states senators and make it a law. that's what we should do in the next three weeks. boy scouts shouldn't get a merit badge for telling the truth and united states senators and the president should not get a badge for keeping government open. that's what they are supposed to do. it is good that it is open and it's important for the people to know that we don't know what to do with it. we know what to do with it because we do it all the time. there are two things wrong in the last few weeks. one is that government was shut down. as the senator from alaska said, the senator from west virginia said, we should never ever shut down the government. shutting down the government should be as off-limits in budget negotiations as chemical warfare is in real warfare. i should not be able to say that senator, if i don't get my way, i will shut the government down. planned
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parenthood, military spending, or a road in tennessee or a coal mine in west virginia, we have our strong opinions that we don't say we will take our football and go home. elected to make the government work for taxpayers. not to shut it down. we know how to do that. we know how to do that. the first thing that was wrong with the last few weeks is, we accepted the idea that shutting down then government is an acceptable bargaining chip in budget negotiation and it should never ever be. we should resolve that it should never ever happen. if this president or the next president or this speaker of the house or the next speaker of the house tries to do it, we should in a bipartisan way say no. you can have your strong view but we are not going with your threat to shut the government down in order to get your policy going. the second thing was, we didn't give the job to the peoples whose job it is to work these
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things out. example, the senator from west virginia. she showed in her leadership of the homeland security subcommittee on appropriations that she knows how with her committee members to work out differences of opinion on border security. instead, we were having a debate back and forth between the president and the speaker of the house, he would say one thing on tv and she would come out of her office and refuted. that's not how you get an agreement. they should leave that to what we call the regular order, allow us to have our discussions. we began to make progress yesterday when we said we -- when we did something we know how to do, which is vote. the second thing that happened was the government, republican leaders. the democratic leader schumer walked back to mcconnell's office and they began to talk. here we are, less than 24 hours later with a result. i commend senator
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schumer for taking this issue, going back in the room talking about it and getting back to business of doing what we are supposed to. i want them to have other senators on the floor and i want them to have a chance to speak. i am glad the president did today what he said he would do. the government should be open. we should be solving the problem. as i said, boy scouts and girl scouts should not get merit badges for telling the truth. the senators and president should not get it for keeping the government open. but it is good that it is open. now is a chance for us to work together. the senator from virginia has been one of the leaders for the last few days alonges with senator from alaska in west virginia thing let's open the government, let's go to work,
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let's take the proposal for comprehensive border security and make a result. it's not that unusual for any president in the middle of the year to say we have an unusual need, the country needs more money. it might be a disaster or a hurricane or a flood. it might be a war. let's not get hung up on this wall talk. let's remember that the previous four presidents asked for we approved the building of 61504 along the 1954-mile southern border of the united states. that's democrats and republicans over 20 years. let's not forget that under the leadership of the senator from west virginia, the senator -- senate appropriations committee considered the president's request and approved $5.7 billion for border security including $1.6 billion for physical barriers. so let's have
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the same sort of discussion again in the next three weeks. senators and house members whose job it is to do it, do it. i'm glad to see this happen. when i go back to tennessee or fly from tennessee i am not walking through the tsa and seeing one of 54,000 tsa workers who have been working without pay. cheerfully, never complaining, never saying an angry word to me. one did say, he could use the money. because he wasn't getting his check. i appreciate that. i'm glad that's over. it should not happen again. let's get back to work. i think the senators, the senators on the floor, all three of them, from alaska, virginia and west virginia for their leadership in getting us where we are today. i yield the floor. >> the senator from virginia. >> meta-president let me first of all echo the comments by my friend the senator from
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tennessee. know whatver fully was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back, but i do believe that under the leadership of the senator from alaska when 16 of us came to the floor yesterday and made the comments, senators on the republican side saying please let's reopen the government. senators on the democratic side like myself saying, i'm open to increasing the dollar amount on border security. the presidinging officer's comments, i rise to welcome the news that sanity has prevailed at least temporarily. after 35 painful days we are finally poised to reopen the government and pay our
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hard-working federal employees. and it is not a moment too soon. todaynormal circumstances was supposed to be a federal payday. but this morning thousands of federal employees went to work one more day knowing full well they would not be getting their paychecks they had earned. thousands more have been furloughed, waiting for the president and my colleagues to come to their senses to let us reopen the government. 800,000ast 35 days federal workers had been held hostage through no fault of their own own. frankly, that's -- through no fault of their own. frankly, that's just scratching the surface of this destructive shutdown. that number, 800,000, doesn't include the hundreds of thousands of federal contractors not getting paid. i talked to my
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friend the senator from alaska, and i have appealed to the common sense and good sense of the presiding officer, we had some legislation, may not be perfect but would look at trying to make at least partially hold those low-paid federal contractors, folks under $50,000 , if we don't find a way to take care of them they will come out of this more than one month of their annual salary with nothing at all to show for it. we all know and the last -- the senator from alaska race this position, if we were to move towards low-price contractors come of solution that we announced today and hopefully we sign later today, would do nothing. take care of the small businesses whose customers were furloughed. or working without pay. the senate -- the senator from alaska led
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that powerful fixture on the floor of the brewery in kodiak, alaska. saw atd her efforts and the port city brewery in alexandria, i believe it was yesterday, not only were they down dramatically in terms of customers but they had five new ws they were trying to bring to market and none of them able to be approved. the damage to those folks in the private sector is done and i'm not sure there's much we can do to rectify. there's no way we can undo the harm, thinking about here locally. to the food truck owners some who have had their food trucks repossessed. smithsonianide the waiting for the tourists to come. those losses are permanent. for my state or that presiding
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officer's states, restaurants or campgrounds outside the great smoky mountains or outside the shenandoah valley. matter of fact there is no way that we are going to be able to make whole the contractor that told me he was closing his doors and laying off 72 workers because he just could not meet the payroll during the shutdown. frankly, it's too late for the president or any of us to help those folks. the only thing we can do now is and get thehutdown federal workers and contractors back to work and try our darndest to make sure this would never happen again. we also need to make sure that those folks get back pay again. i was urged that we take a hard look at making sure those low-wage contractors who are
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suffering so badly right now get an opportunity to get their back pay as well. i'm cosponsoring legislation with the senator from minnesota i hope all my colleagues on both sides look at that legislation. we now finally have the opportunity, by reopening the tgovernment temporarily to take a timeout and give both parties the space and negotiate a compromise. we are clearly not there yet but there is room for common ground. over the weekend, the president proposed additional funding for screening vehicles and cargo coming across the border at points of entry. the dea said this is how the majority of illegal drugs coming into our country something we can work on together. if the white house wants to seriously discuss providing real,
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long-term security for dreamers and tps recipients, let's have that conversation as well. i think we can do it. but it will take time. in the meantime, let's make sure the president signs today that legislation that will allow our federal employees and contractors to get back to work. before i close, i for selfake a moment reflection over what has happened the last 35 days. in many ways, we are right back where wehe were in december. right back where we were with -- where this body nearly unanimously passed legislation that would have prevented this stupid crisis. for 35 days, this body has refused to fill its role as a
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part and coequal branch of government. we can't let that happen again. i hope the white house will take lessons from this crisis as well. they can start by realizing, no one, no one wins in a shutdown. if you shut down the government, the only thing we know for fact is that the american people lose. i hope the president will also realize that you need to empower those around you to help make a deal. the vice president came to the senate with a deal in mid december. i don't think he left capitol hill before the president basically took back the vice president's deal. senator graham, proposed almost exactly this deal that we came to three weeks ago. unfortunately again, the
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president cut off his good friend at that point. it's my hope in the coming weeks, we can have good negotiation where both sides have an opportunity to come out ahead. imagine that. a win-win proposition here, coming out of the house of congress. but to do that we have to have enough of the stunts and the political tit-for-tat that we've seen over the past few weeks. in a moment of optimism, anything good that can come from this shutdown, let's make it the last time that a president or congress uses shutting down the government as a negotiating tactic. i got legislation and it took some hard work to come up with the acronym but the legislation is called the stop stupidity act.
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that will make sure that congress and the white house are the only ones who suffer when the congress and white house can't come to a funding agreement. maybe the particulars of that legislation can change or maybe even responsible members like the presiding officer would rank we don't need to put into law something called stop the stupidity act. hope changing the -- i'm open to changing the name as well. language in any deal that comes out three weeks from now should but strong provisions and strong penalties in place to prevent this tactic from being used by either party for any white house or congress or it in the future. to domind the easiest way that, and another is republican legislation on this, it would be can and ewing fund -- continuing
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to fund the government. the only place that would actually be the victims of a shutdown would be the congress and our staff and the white house and its staff. a little bit of common sense tells me that we wouldn't be here 35 days into this shutdown if all our staff were experiencing the same kind of economic distress that 800,000 of our federal workers experienced. is come our federal workers need to get that paycheck. the truth is our country can't afford another self-inflicted disaster. get that continuing resolution passed, let's sit down and negotiate in good faith on border security. most importantly let's make sure we are never back in this circumstance again. with that mr. president i yield the floor and note the absence

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